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Friday, June 19, 2015

Our trip to South Dakota Day one and two



We are on our way to see our daughter in South Dakota, and witness the arrival of our third grandchild and first granddaughter.

This planning  started six months ago, but things kept coming up, where we couldn't save for the airline fair. So we calculated the cost, and it was far cheaper for us to drive.

My wife and I decided to rent a car, and that way we would not put wear and tear on our own vehicle, plus our 16 year old son - who didn't want to come - would have a way to get around when we were gone.

The trip was set, everything was paid and all was good.

Day one

We went to get our car from #Budgetrentacar, stood on a line at 7:30 am. Only one person was there to check everyone in, and so the going was slow.

We finally made it to the counter, and he demanded my wife's identification and card.

Now let me explain,  my wife and I don't have credit cards, because they were dangerous to us at the first part of our married lives. If we don't have the money for it, we don't buy it.

Budget does not care about our personal beliefs, and they don't except debit.

My wife was upset, my daughter in South Dakota was in tears and we still needed to be on the road.

We went to #EnterpiseRentals and they wanted $3500 to rent the car. I laughed, congratulated the manager on his comedy routine and left.

After much  debate, we decided to take our car. We made sure that the fluids were topped off, and then we set of for South Dakota. My 16 year old son was very upset, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few [he always quotes that].

We drove through Oregon, Washington, Idaho and into Montana. We stopped at 9:00 at the cutest little motel in Superior Montana, called Big Sky Motel, bigskymotel.net.

Day 2

We left Superior Montana, and headed east, and across the Rocky Mountains, and into the northern planes of the United States. This was a very long trip. There is not much that went on on the second day, except looking out the window and taking pictures.

We made it into Pierre (locals pronounce it Peer) South Dakota at 11:15 local time. The car made it, and we were exhausted.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, Here are some pictures for your enjoyment. I think I will take tomorrow off

Columbia River Gorge

Multanmoha Falls, Oregon

The Columbia River

More of the Columbia River

Wind Farm in Washington State

A Large Windmill - What would Don Quixote think? 

Hello Montana

The best little Hotel we have ever visited.

Montana from the passenger side of a moving car.

The Rockies!

Mountains and green prairies.
.



River in Eastern Montana
The Plains in Montana
The Rocky Mountains
Wheat Montana Bakery - No good if you are eating paleo!

More of the Rocky Mountains in Montana


A river runs through it in Montana

lots of green grass land in the Wyoming


Welcome to South Dakota

Sunset of Day 2



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger


I am sitting here at my computer, confessing my sins. I got angry last night. Now I can get tussled about quite often, but generally I hold my peace; I can usually shake off what is bothering me and move on. Last night was not one of those times.

I have a 16 year old son, and he is a driver, but he does not have a car and we only have one car that we all share. Now usually on Saturday I take the car to work (I generally take my bike), so I can come home and have lunch with my wife (the crowd says “awe”). She will then take me back to work, and then she will do her shopping for the next week. That has been the routine since I have had this schedule.

Last night my son came home, and said he needed the car first thing in the morning. It is for a social event, and one which I support, but he came in and changed my plans.
I lost it. I did not start yelling, but my wife did say I was throwing a fit (didn’t someone say he was an adult earlier… humph).
I went to bed and I had a very restless night sleep, and I woke up this morning in a rather bad mood. I stomped around the kitchen, chanted as my mantra “I don’t want to go to work,” and grumbled about not being able to take the car (Adult: I say again humph).
I sat down at my computer, and started to settle down, and I realized I was acting as a child. I started making a list of apologies I needed to give, did a little work and my time to leave approached.
I went out to my mode of transportation, and my front tire was as flat as a pancake. Now I really felt bad, because my wife would have to take me to work and I would be disrupting her sleep.
So this is the lesson I have gleaned from that experience.
First, plans can change, and being rigid about your plans can make you break. So I must not be so set in what I am doing that I cannot make allowances for variation.
Second, resolve the problem – before going to sleep. Waking up the next morning feeling upset will only be overshadowed by feeling tired.
Lastly, be grateful for what you have, because you never know when you might have a “flat.”


Thursday, May 14, 2015

I need some WD-40



I have been writing pretty steady since January, and I am very happy with the success of what I have done. This is better than any other attempt I have made with my writing. But the wheels are getting stuck.

I have sat down here to write and opened up a vain, but for some reason the words aren’t coming out like they were: I am not able to just take a word or an idea and run with it. 
I do admit, where I do the most of my writing is here at my “Brick and Mortar,” but the atmosphere is not quite conducive for original thought; with the primary colors on the walls to offset the beige cubicles, the ivory desks, the cold monitors and the grey phone, The carpets are even a bleck color (somewhere between brown and yuck).

There is a motivational poster that hangs near my cubical that says, “Are you the weakest link?” which is kind of anti-motivational.

I suppose what I am saying, is I am lacking motivation. I find it hard to have motivation here at my “Brick and Mortar,” and (as I yawn for the hundredth time today) I am finding it hard to have creative thought. 

I need to break out of this funk, I have felt out of sorts since I got sick with the flu, and now I am just sitting here, marking time. 

I tried to play music, but my boss told me to turn it off (I guess not everyone likes Bon Jovi). I am stuck in the doldrums, I just thought it would be warmer. 

So I know this post is a little on the whiny side, and for that I am sorry, but this is something I believe we all are faced with from one time or another. Getting those new ideas, creating words that inspire and crafting ideas that motivate. When those are fleeting from us, how do we get them back?

So I sit here in my beige cubical and ponder what I can do next. I know there are atrocities that need to be righted, and injustices in the world - which I can tackle.

I have written a bit of fiction, but it is not ready for public eyes yet, and perhaps it might never be. 

I have to remember - it is alright to fail, it is alright to fall on my face, because the failure will not define me. I suppose that is the biggest thing that stops me. I am facing a wall that is over a thousand feet tall, but it is only a meter wide. I just have to go around it. 

So here I go, failure or not, I am going to step around that wall. Please catch me if I fall. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

My way or the Highway



When I became a manager for a nationwide photography company, I was placed in the middle of a season with veteran photographers, and a whole passel of attitude. My stress response is to get blusterous, and in true fashion, I said, “If you don’t want to do your job, there’s the door.”

The room fell silent, and I stood in front of the whole staff, and I knew at that moment two things were a possibility: Either I would be trampled by a stampede of escaping photographers, or they would realize I was just saber rattling and never take me serious. I kind of wished they trampled me.

Once you make that statement the recipient has two responses, either cut tail and run or dig in their heels. Neither offers a satisfactory resolution. 

When you say, “My way or the Highway,” you are making yourself preeminent, and even though preeminence has its place, it does not have its place in love. We have a lot of people in this world trying to dominate, trying to be better than the Jones’ and trying to make their way the only way.

The only issue with this attitude is that we miss out on collaboration. When we think that there is no other person that can have a better idea of what needs to be done, we squash other’s ideas. What’s more, people stop listening. 

When I was first married to my wife, I was not very kind. We dated, and I had the typical dating face. I was kind, soft spoken, gentle, compassionate and nurturing. After we said “I do,” I turned into Mr. Hyde. 

Kelly do this, Kelly do that, you need to obey me. I chuckle now, because I realize what a “Jack Wagon” I was back then, and how patient Kelly was with me. 

She reminded me that Eve was not taken from Adam’s foot, so she would not be stepped on, and he was not taken from his head, so she would be over him; she was taken from his side - to be beside him. 

When you yield and give “right of way,” you are telling the other person. “I respect you, I want to listen to you and I hope you will listen to me.” You level the playing field, so that both of you can be equals. Because love does not insist on its own way; this is one way to show your love.


Let me break off into a tangent right now, I know I am throwing the “L” word around a lot. This can be very uncomfortable for people, because they feel that word is special. That word is special, and I am not trying to misuse it: However, if we are not showing love, and in black and white world, we show the opposite, which is hatred.



So don’t insist on your own way, it might give you the feeling of power, and you might feel like you are in control, but you might find yourself walking alone on that very same highway.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Litany of the Duck

My Grammy used to say, “Don't dig up old bones.”
 
One way to make yourself or someone else completely miserable and even ruin a relationship is to dig up some old bones. I am not talking about Archeology; I am talking about keeping track of wrongdoing.

When we can't let something go, we cannot move on ourselves. We miss the things around us, by cluttering our view with malice and discord.

Forgiveness is very important, especially when we are trying to move on. As I have said in other posts, I am not a saint - in fact, I would argue I am 180 degrees from sainthood, and moving rapidly away from that direction. Besides there is already a Saint Thomas and I don't want to encroach on that territory. 

This being said I have not only made terrible mistakes,but I have kept a record of wrong. Making mistakes is part of growing, and learning - we all make mistakes, because we are all growing and learning. When you keep a record of wrong, and you can't move on - you stop the growing process.

When I moved my family up to the Pacific Northwest - to pursue a job that actually fell through - we ended up sleeping on the living room floor at my parent’s house. Now my oldest son at that time was eleven years old, and my second son was 9. 

One day my two boys were playing out in the backyard kicking a ball between them, when my father came out and started yelling at my oldest son, because he kicked over a duck.

This duck was a dirty, old, plastic, lawn ornament that sat in the back yard in some ivy. My son told my father that he did not kick over the duck, but my father insisted and told him that he needed to pick up the duck. My son picked up the duck and made it sit correctly in the ivy patch. 

Let me clarify, nothing happened to the duck, it was not in any way injured or broken, it was just laying on its side, and all it needed was to be stood up: No damage whatsoever. The damage came from my father’s perspective on how the ugly plastic duck was wronged.

My father and mother, however, could not reconcile the duck incident. Later that night started the “litany of the duck,” that would last for years. 

My parents would not let the bones of the “duck” be buried, and even after my father's passing - in our family - anytime someone belabors a subject - it is called “kicking over the duck.”

The point of the story was my son and my parents never had a good relationship after that, every time my son tried to get close, my parents would bring up the duck: After a while my son stopped trying. 

When my son and his wife had their first child, my father and mother didn’t even see their great grandchild for about six months; even then they didn't get a chance to hold him, and my son had no guilt over it, because he wasn't close to them. They could not move forward, and this caused him to not move forward either: broken relationship.

Remember time and relationships are lost because of scores we keep.


We all have ducks in our lives, we all have been accused of doing things we did not do and we all have bones that need to be buried. 


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don’t lose your cool man.


That phrase is a flashback to the ’70’s I know, but sometimes we do just that - we lose our cool. It is so easy to get impatient when we put ourselves first.

So three tomatoes were walking to the store: The father tomato looked back and saw the junior tomato just dawdling, so the father tomato walked back, stepped on the junior tomato and exclaimed, “Ketch up!” 

WE want to get something done, WE want to go somewhere and “that bothers ME”, GIVE ME… Focusing on ourselves can cause us to become increasingly impatient.

To change our focus, we need to look at what the other person is doing. We need to see what they want or need to get done, where they want or need to go.

Now, none of us are perfect: yesterday we discovered that our daughter lost her $850 Nikon camera, that we gave her for her birthday. She was being nonchalant about the whole thing, and my wife and I were all up in arms. We lost our cool big time. We lost our patience with her, because she maintained her cool. Was this a justification? No. She knew it would be found, and as it turns out, she left it on the bus. It was returned and so was the calmness  

So you might be saying, “OK Thom, how do I do this - when you can’t even do this?”

We have to look at patience like tending a garden. If you start the garden with seed, plant it, water it, weed the garden; after that first day is over, you still will not see harvest until the plant has finished growing.

Patience has to be planted, you have to tend to it, just like a garden, and then you have to wait. Getting patience does not happen immediately: ironically enough, it takes patience to get patience.

You cannot just assume you will have patience just because you want it, you have to work for it, you have to cultivate it, and when you “Lose your cool man,” that is just a weed, so take it out.

My wife use to say she prayed for patience, and so we had our first three children in our first five years of marriage: She kept praying and we kept having kids. Those kids did test our patience, but we grew and so did our patience. 

Patience is also part of love. My wife is so patient with me, but that is because she loves me - and the feelings are reciprocated. We love our children, so we patiently wait for them to get where we need them to go.

Pet peeves kill patience

Now I know we all have those pesky pet peeves that make us lose all concept of patience. I use to hate it when people rubbed their nails, or used a nail file. It would literally set my teeth on edge, and I had to leave the room. I can remember several times where I would get irate at someone who was doing this. As my daughter use to tell me: I was feeding my pet.

Then I married a nail tech, and I had to get use to the noise. Now it is no longer my pet peeve.

My youngest son hates people chewing. My wife hates it when people hang up without saying goodbye. My oldest son hates limp handshakes. These are all things that can separate us from those around us if we let our pet peeves build walls, we will never get to know our neighbors, no matter where they are geographically.

Can you learn patience? Most certainly you can.  Is it difficult and sometimes painful? Most certainly it is. Is it achievable? Without question – anyone with a little patience – can become more patient.


Be more patient, enjoy people and stop feeding your pet (your pet peeve that is, please keep feeding your dog, cat, bird or fish).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Be Considerate




If we take the simple definition of this phrase as: Be careful to not cause inconvenience or hurt to others. How can we, as a community, make sure we are not inconveniencing or hurting others? 

We all could sit around this global campfire, and chat about how we have not been shown consideration, how we have been wronged and how we have in someway been injured by others. This is very easy to do, we like to shine a spotlight on ourselves and sometimes show our wounds.

I could fill several blog pages with my woes, and my injuries; I could talk about my family, my friends, my coworkers, my job or that little blue Kia that cut me off on the way home, but I won't, because I am no saint: I have caused inconvenience and pain to others. I believe it is human nature to try to elevate ourselves, and that means sometimes we walk on other people to get to the top.

When we are striving to get to that pinnacle, How do we do that without climbing over other people? 

In the post Excellence, I mentioned that getting to the top is great, but where do you go once you are there. The only way to go is down. There are some people that live on the pinnacle,  but to me not advancing or declining is stagnation, and that - I believe - is worse.

I believe the best way to be the best you can be, it by helping other people, and surrounding yourself with people that help people. I have such people in my Google Plus family - Adele Archer, Jeremy Crow, Nael Noaman, Matt Banner and Luna Darcy just to name a few. These people are very positive people and they always offer a kind word of encouragement and an uplifting message.

The opposite to causing hurt, is encouragement.

I was nominated for the Liebster award. This encouraged me: encouraged me to do better, to write more and let me know that my voice was being heard. This was consideration. That is what I am taking about.

What I see on Google Plus, is people encouraging people. Now that is not to say that I haven’t seen the opposite.

I was going through my feed, and there was a picture of a woman straddling two truck beds. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt - nothing pornographic. Usually I don’t stop and stare, but a comment caught my attention. Someone commented on that picture, “You look stupid.” 

Why was this necessary to say?

When I was a child, there was a saying, “If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all.” 

I remember, there was a kid in my neighborhood, and we did not like each other at all. He was always saying things to me, and I was always saying things back. One day I saw a group of kids down at the end of the street, and they were encircling something or somebody. Being inquisitive by nature, I went to check it out. 

There was CJ, talking smack about me, and I entered the circle. He looked at me and said something about my mom, and I said something in return, and quite frankly I don't remember what I said, but I got punched in the face: I ended up on the street, and CJ walked away. Lesson: say something mean, get punched in the face.

I am not saying we should go around punching people in the face, just because they say something or do something we don’t like. CJ and I were both in the wrong. What I am saying, and what I took with me from this experience is: We need to be considerate with everyone, we need to consider everyone’s feelings without regard to our own, and that will reciprocate. 

Where am I going with all of this? We need to be nice to one another. Remember, when we take our eyes off of ourselves, and stop putting ourselves first, and we start building others up, and helping them along the way - we will be built up. When we give others hope and we encourage others, we will have hope and encouragement too.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Well I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the incredible and wonderful Adele Archer, this took me a while to fill out - so sorry about that.. Adele is a wonderful blogger, writer and from what I can ascertain a terrific person. So here are some questions which I was asked by Adele, so here it goes. 

  1. Where does your blogging inspiration come from?

As I have stated many times in my blog, my blogging is mostly cathartic. I feel when I see something that bothers me, either in myself or others, I need to write about it. Right now I am inspired by the idea of peace: people getting along with other people. I want to direct people to love, not hatred. With all the hatred in the world today, if we could just reach out in love to our neighbors next door and around the world, we would have peace.

2. Is your blogging simply a hobby? What kind of dreams do you have for it?

I came back to the blogosphere, because I missed writing. I had written before with motives that were not exactly pure. I wanted to make money - that went exactly nowhere. When you write with your mind on your wallet, and not your heart, you will not be satisfied. Remember most men carry their wallet in their back pocket - Write from your wallet, and guess where you write from? That’s right out of your…

3.  What is your support system like and who are your biggest supporters?

I will have to say, my family has seen me at my worst with writing, so they are a little gun shy about my ventures. They know I have been disappointed in the past. My biggest support has come from the many page view this go around. I will say, however, my wife has always supported me in what ever I do, and when I fall to pieces, she is there with the superglue to put me back together

4. What are 10 random facts about you?

  1. My wife and I have been married for 28 years and we have five children, two  grandsons and a granddaughter on the way
  2. I always wanted to be able to fly, not in a plane, but with my own wings - is that too random?
  3. I have always been a story teller; My grandfather use to call it lying.
  4. I believe in Ghosts, UFOs, The Loch Ness Monster, The Yeti and Bigfoot - But I believe Elvis is dead.
  5. I have a double crown, which makes it look like I am balding in the front.
  6. I am double jointed.
  7. I had brain surgery back in 2013.
  8. I love people, and their diversity, but I only like vanilla ice-cream.
  9. I was awful in English class in junior high and high school. 
  10. I believe I am harder on myself, then anyone else - unless you ask my youngest children, then they would say I am harder on them

5.  What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I enjoy taking a simple thought, and expounding on that thought. I take examples from my own life, and I apply it to writing: I love writing.

6. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with too many tasks at once?

Take a nap. 

Really, I do try to prioritize. I do have to remember that “A little sleep, a little slumber and a little folding of the hands to rest; Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man. Proverbs 24:33-34

7. What would you do with a large sum of money given to you?

I would pay off all of my debts, pay off my older kids debts, buy the twins a car, and invest the rest of the money.

8. What was one of the most moving books or movies you have ever seen?

“The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day” was the best moving book I’ve ever read… Oh wait that wasn’t the question. 

I guess the movie that has stayed with me, was “Chariots of Fire.”
Book: Dean Koontz Seize the Night - I read it about five times.

9. Where would you like to see yourself in the next couple of years?

In the mirror - sorry I’m a bit of a smart …

I would love to ditch my “Brick and Mortar” and work as a Free Lance Writer

10. Do you have a bucket list? Name 5 things on that.

I don’t have a bucket list, I don’t want to get to the end of the list, and then have to wait for me to kick the bucket.

11. What is your single best piece of advice for someone starting out in the blogging world?

Write from your heart, find your niche, read other blogs, work on your writing, don’t stop writing and most importantly NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

I get to nominate 11 awesome bloggers! Here are my nominees in no particular order:


Each of these bloggers are worth your time to go and check out; they all have things to say, and a voice. 

So my nominees: This is your mission - if you choose to accept it. Answer the 11 questions above in your own blog post and nominate 11 bloggers who have 200 followers or less (I am sorry, some of my nominees have more than 200, but only slightly - I just enjoy their posts, so I included them).

If you decide to make your own questions for your nominees, please feel free: or do what I did and use the ones above - they do seem quite comprehensive.

Leave a comment on your nominees’ blogs so they would be informed about the nomination and so they can decide if they want to participate or not. Make sure you include a link back to your blog post so they can have an example.

This is a great way to increase the readership of our fellow bloggers, and also increase our own personal followership. 

Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Open the doors


We are a global community, and that means we have a lot to get over, before we can get down to the love stuff.

I remember when I was a child (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), we knew our neighbors, and what was going on in our little corner of the world, but we did not know anyone outside of our sphere of influence.

A friend of my parents had a HAM radio, and they could talk to people from different countries. They would sit in their “Radio Room” and talk to people around the world: I wanted to do that. I remember them saying there were certain places we could not call, they were off limits.

But we all were duped.

We only knew what was on the media: Russians were evil and they tortured cats (OK they did not say they tortured cats), they were despicable humans and they wanted to kill Americans. Mexicans and the Japanese were trying to take over our jobs. The Chinese were amassing huge numbers to invade the rest of the world, etc. There was communism and capitalism, and neither the two shall meet.

I remember when the wall came down, and the first American Photographer was allowed in the former Soviet Republic, he took pictures of people; they weren't ugly, spiteful, cat killing war mongers, they were people just like we were.

The media was wrong, movies were wrong and we had all been fed lies from the very start. It was funny to hear, but their media portrayed us similarly.

This opened our world, but where are we now?

With the Internet, our vision becoming wider – the whole world is open to us, but we have other problems we must face. I speak to some of my friends in the UK, Australia, Europe and Asia , but I don’t speak to my neighbors anymore. This global closeness has in fact created a distance between us and those in our own physical community.

I propose – we need to get that back, we need to be close with those around the world, and those next door.

But how do we do that? The people on the internet – they don’t scare me.  The people next door, they are far too real. If I don’t want to talk to someone from Portugal, than I don’t have to respond, I don’t have that freedom with my neighbor: If they come over, you can’t just turn off the computer and they go away.

That is what the problem is; we are too much in control of how we deal with each other.

This is where the rubber meets the road: we need to be open, which means we will be vulnerable – nobody likes that.  However there is strength in vulnerability.

It takes courage to be vulnerable, because when you are vulnerable you have nowhere left to hide, you have to stand out on life’s stage and face whatever is coming at you.


It is hard, we don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to be vulnerable – I will be totally honest with you, but when we become vulnerable, we will let people into our lives. Yes, they might cause pain, they might cause heart break, but it also will create love, and we need more love in this world


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kick off the training wheels


Last night my oldest son, his wife and his father-in-law, met us for a Garth Brooks concert. This is Garth Brooks' World tour, and let me tell you it was amazing. I have only gone to a handful of concerts in my life, and all I can say about this concert was WOW: we really enjoyed ourselves.

Garth Brooks played a song “People Loving People” off of his Man Against Machine album released 2014. I enjoyed the song, but it got me thinking. How am I facilitating “People Loving People?”

Short Answer: I’m not.

On my first blog, I said I was writing about myself, and I even made a nerd joke by naming my blog “Captain’s Log,” because my last name is similar to the last name of Patrick Stewart’s character in Star Trek the Next Generation. But that morphed into what I have now.

I am writing blogs about writing blogs, which is still very important. But this is the question in my mind: Is what I am writing creating a better place? 

Am I really creating a difference or am I just another voice in the wind?  Please don't misunderstand – encouraging people to write correctly and share their voice with the world is very important.

So today, I am kicking off my training wheels. Today starts a new chapter in my blogging life: I must move on.

So there are two things I am going to be doing:

First, I am going to start making my blog matter. I need to write engaging articles for my readers, but also to make a difference. If I can make a difference in just one person's life, than I have succeeded as a writer.

Second, I started a WordPress Account, and I am going to start writing short stories for now, and maybe that will culminate into something bigger. This is just so I can get my creative juices flowing again.

This ride is far from over, and this came to me this morning while the house was quiet and everyone was sleeping.

I do want to apologize at the very onset, if I get a little too preachy, I am sorry. I am not a preacher, and if I come across that way, please let me know.


As always I am grateful for all of my readers: Happy writing.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Diligence

If we practice diligence in everything we do, we will avoid causing ourselves additional problems and pain.

If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
John  Wooden

I want to preface this post by saying, I am not writing this for sympathy – instead this is an object lesson for diligence.

My wife and I are on a “diet” of sorts, we are actually changing our eating patterns, but twice a month, we allow ourselves to go a little off the rails as it were, and splurge: Friday was that day.

I left my “Brick and Mortar” for lunch to go to one of my favorite eating spots. I enjoy Mexican food, and so there is this semi fast food restaurant near where I work, which I enjoy frequenting.

I hopped on my bike, and headed out for the restaurant and as I was crossing traffic, my bike lurched forward, and I fell off my bike in traffic, and hurt my foot.

I got up, and started for the side of the road, and noticed the nuts that hold my wheels on were loose; I do maintenance on my bike once a week and I make sure everything is secure and in working order, and I usually check my bike, but that check is done first thing in the morning. Friday, I realized my diligence should have extended to every time I get on my bike. 

Now it is unclear if someone loosened the nuts on my bike, or if some magnetic gravitational force loosened the tightened nuts on the wheels: The point is I need to check each time I get on my bike, so I don’t have an accident.


When we write our blogs, an article for a client, or letters to our friends; we should remember that we are writers, and we are held to a higher standard for our writing. In other words we need to be diligent.

So many times, when I read a blog from a new blogger, or even from a seasoned veteran, I see glaring mistakes: Sometimes looking back on my own work I see glaring mistakes. 

The point is we must be clear in our translation of thought to page, and it should be… no it must be void of errors.

We cannot and must not become lax in our writing, because as writers we are expected to communicate efficiently.

Look at what you create with a critical eye, look at it fresh. I have to admit, I write a post a day or two in advance, I then read over the post and save it. I come back to it an hour before I post (sometimes a half hour) and I read it again. After I put it in the blog, before I post it, I read it aloud again just to make sure there is clarity of thought: Then I publish it.


How can you be diligent in your work? What works for you? Share in the comment section, because I enjoy reading from my readers and learning what they do. Everyone has something to offer. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Choices - Decisions that molded who we are.



There are many things that have created who we are. The decisions we make, create who we have become; Good decisions as well as bad decisions - culminate to dictate our existence.

In my personal life, when I look back on the decisions I have made, and even though they might not seem to be sound decisions, they have led me to where I am today.

I suppose the first real decision I needed to make was to tour with a rock band right out of high school or to stay where I was. 

There was this band called the Darrell Mansfield Band, their bass player was leaving the band, because him and his wife were expecting their first daughter. I was offered the position after a concert by the leader of the band, I would have left that night and we would have gone on the European tour and ending up in Israel for a video shoot. 

I looked at my girlfriend and I could not imagine not seeing her: I was 18, and she was still in school. Without hesitation, I declined Darrell’s offer. A year later The Darrell Mansfield Band disbanded, 28 years later I am still with that same girl.

Yes my life could have changed, I could have gone on to tour with other bands, and Kelly and I still might have been together. But the life I chose gave me five wonderful children and two wonderful grandchildren; we are expecting our third grandchild - the first granddaughter.

That was a win!
 
My second big decision was only a few months later. We were living in a small town, where my parents lived, and they hated Kelly. To protect my wife (we had been married less than a month), I wanted to move us out of that small town.

I had the day off from my job, and my best friend, who had enlisted in the Navy, said he would take me to the recruiting office; I always admired the Navy, but from afar. Kelly told me to not sign anything and we should talk about this when I got home.

I came back a sailor.

My other choice would have been to go to college, and get my degree, instead I moved my wife The Pacific Northwest, where my two oldest children were born.

Not a loss, not a win either.

The next decision I needed to make was where to go to school. In the late - 80's schools where as prominent as pimples on a teenager's face. My wife saw an advertisement for this school, and so we went to check it out. We agreed upon entering the building: we would talk about the school before enrolling. 

I don't know what happened - I believe they hypnotised me, because I signed up for a four year program to be completed in two. However, at the end after I took the finals: The school closed their doors forever. I didn't even get to graduate. 

That was a big loss.

I had smaller decisions, some of them I chose correctly, some I did not. Most still haunt me.

The next big decision was should I re-enlist or go into the reserves. This time Kelly was instrumental - she did not want to be a military wife any longer, so I was not going to make her do that. I left active duty.

I could have been retired by now, but I would have been in two wars, and who knows how many deployments. I do sometimes feel like I have sold the cow for magic beans, but on the other hand Jack did have an amazing journey. 

That was a Win again!

I guess I have been taught to lead with my heart. Whenever I did, I believe I chose the path that made me happier in the end; albeit sometimes the path was harder, I cannot imagine a life without my wife.


What would your story be? What choices did you make, and how did that form who you are?

Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s All About Heart.



Billy Joel wrote It’s all about soul, which is one of my favorite songs, and the last chorus says: 

It's all about soul
It's all about joy that comes out of sorrow
It's all about soul
Who's standing now and who's standing tomorrow
You've got to be hard
Hard as the rock in that old rock 'n' roll song
But that's only part, you know in your heart
It's all about soul

I don't want to argue with one of the greats, and I think Billy Joel is one of the greats, but I believe it is all about heart.

Stripping yourself bare and standing in the spotlight and showing all of your faults - It’s all about heart. Creating a picture with words; holding what you know to be true and being not only true to yourself, but true to your readers as well - It’s all about heart.

In my previous blogs before I started this blog, I was concerned with only two things: 1) I wanted to make money; I was money driven and I was trying everything to get a paycheck from writing. 2) I wanted notoriety - I wanted people to flock to my sight, but they weren't coming, why? Because, I seemed to have forgotten it’s all about heart.

Looking back on that time, I can see I didn't have heart. My writing was so flat it only had one side. Sometimes when the motives are not right, it can seem fake and forced. When writing from your heart, it should be free and unrestrained.

“Who’s Standing Now and Who’s Standing Tomorrow”

I watched a lot of television when I was growing up, and we loved watching the TV show M*A*S*H. There was this one episode where Corporal Klinger was starting a newspaper. and he was able to get people to subscribe to his paper. One day, Colonel Potter asked Klinger where his paper was, and Klinger - excited - put the paper under the door. Colonel Potter used it to wipe his paint brush.

Klinger was not accepted as a writer and he folded up his newspaper enterprise and went back to being a corporal (this happened after his drag days).

I have noticed, some of the people I follow, especially the ones who needed some extra encouragement for their writing, no longer post in their blogs - this makes me sad.

It is sad, because these individuals took the time to explore the field of writing - they thought they loved writing and they really tried, but either it wasn't for them, or they became so discouraged that they folded up their tent in shame and walked into obscurity. 

How do we make it so we are standing tomorrow?

We need to write engaging articles from the heart. We need to dig in and hold on, because there is a story to be told. If you believe in your heart what you are writing - you have something special.

The point was that Klinger was not doing it out of heart, he wasn't even doing it out of duty; Klinger was doing it to be a “newspaper man.” If he poured his heart into his newspaper, and really had engaging articles, he would have been the newspaper man he wanted to be. What kind of blogger do you want to be? 

Write with heart, and you will be here on tomorrow’s tomorrow.